By Leonard B. Weinstock, M.D. FACG et al. Article in Press ~ International Journal of Infectious Diseases

Highlights

  • Mast cell activation symptoms (MCAS) were increased in Long-COVID patients
  • Long-COVID patients had similar severity of numerous MCAS symptoms
  • Aberrant mast cells induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection is the likely triggering factor
  • MC-directed therapy could help treat Long-COVID patients

Abstract

Objectives

Hyper-inflammation caused by COVID-19 may be mediated by mast cell activation (MCA) which has also been hypothesized to cause Long-COVID (LC) symptoms. We determined prevalence/severity of MCA symptoms in LC.

Methods

Adults in LC-focused Facebook support groups were recruited for online assessment of symptoms before and after COVID-19. Questions included presence and severity of known MCA and LC symptoms and validated assessments of fatigue and quality of life. General population controls and mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) patients were recruited for comparison if they were ≥18 years of age and never had overt COVID-19 symptoms.

Results

There were 136 LC subjects (89.7% females, age 46.9 ±12.9 years), 136 controls (65.4% females, age 49.2 ±15.5), and 80 MCAS patients (85.0% females, age 47.7 ±16.4). Pre-COVID-19 LC subjects and controls had virtually identical MCA symptom and severity analysis. Post-COVID-19 LC subjects and MCAS patients prior to treatment had virtually identical MCA symptom and severity analysis.

Conclusions

MCA symptoms were increased in LC and mimicked the symptoms and severity reported by patients who have MCAS. Increased activation of aberrant mast cells induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection by various mechanisms may underlie part of the pathophysiology of LC, possibly suggesting routes to effective therapy.

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